Still surrounded by a haze of myth and rumor from the days of the Iron Curtain and Ian Fleming, Russia remains high on the list of misunderstood countries. Foreign news coverage of carnage in the Moscow metro, terrorist attacks, and political corruption all bolster the country’s reputation for lawlessness and violence. Maybe that’s why the demand for qualified EFL teachers is very big in the country.
For a growing number of young Russians, English is the key to a better job and a ticket to a new life abroad, hence the EFL boom. Oil, tourism, and services outsourcing are among the major industries where good English is essential.
Private English language schools abound, capitalizing on the inadequacies of the state education system. In the schools both local and native English speakers can be employed. Demand for the latter is so high that even mediocre teachers are often overloaded with work.
The process of getting started can be difficult in Russia due to the lack of information. An Internet search using terms such as “teach English in Russia” and “English schools in Russia” will turn up dozens of sites, like escapeartist.com and others, with outdated articles.
You’ll have to sift through a lot of commercial flotsam to get to the hard facts you are looking for. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the web sites of some of the country’s biggest chain schools: for example BKC International (www.bkc.ru/eng/jobs/), and English First (www.englishfirst.com/teacherinfo/recruitment/russia.asp).
These schools provide the access to teaching in Russia to those who have never been to the country before and might not even have teaching experience. They can provide visa support, accommodations, and sometimes even airfare reimbursement in return for signing a fixed-term contract. Some provide training and internships for inexperienced teachers.
ESL/EFL opportunities continue to exist in Russia. There are almost 300 language schools in Moscow alone. Many foreigners can do voluntary work through organizations such as GAP Activity Projects, EEP and the Central Bureau. They usually teach in State schools and universities. Business English is a major market now, in addition to the usual conversational English, you can earn over $700US doing buisness courses. Both children and adults are conscious of the importance of a good knowledge of English.
Parents are even ready to pay for good teachers, good English courses, and young learners are ready to spend hours studying English. The knowledge of English may give them an opportunity to get a well-paid job or to enter a prestigious higher educational institution.
In most schools children begin to learn English either at the age of 7 or 10 (the number of schools with the former curriculum is constantly growing). The number of learners in groups varies from 10 to 25. All of them are eager to learn English.
The state policy used to be teach as you wish, use any materials and methods you like - only the result is important. The approximate standard program was published and it stated what should be studied at each grade. Now Happy English" by Kusovlev has been proclaimed to be "a federal course book", and all the teachers of the state secondary schools have to use it as a basic course in their work. So all the teachers and learners are tied up to one and the same book, ideas, methods.
Conditions vary enormously between schools, and teachers are advised to do sufficient research before accepting a teaching position.